The family-friendly, all-luxuries-covered Zemi Beach is a winner if you’re looking for a relaxed, Caribbean retreat. Set on the sugar-white sands of Shoal Bay East in Anguilla, this chilled-out but seriously stylish resort keeps kids and their parents happy with a host of restaurants, two pools, maze-like gardens and a watersports roster as long as a mermaid’s tail fin. Life on the ocean wave is a breeze with organised paddleboarding, swimming with dolphins, sailing and kite surfing, plus glass-bottomed boat tours and sunset cruises. Afterwards, make straight for the 300-year-old spa (Smith parents, we’re looking at you) or the excellent kids club.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of rum and some johnnycakes (a local delicacy of cornbread pancakes)
Noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from $495.00, excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional service charge of 10% per room per night prior to arrival and an additional local city tax of $3.00 per person per night prior to arrival.
Rates include a welcome drink and a daily buffet breakfast of freshly-baked pastries, home-made granola, fresh fruit and eggs any-which-way.
Save your pennies for Out of the Blue, the hotel’s boutique shop: you’ll want to load up on the handmade sandals, colourful swimwear and fun totes, all ideal for showing off around the pool or at the restaurant.
At the hotel
Spa, gym, tennis court, volleyball court, free WiFi throughout, free phone calls to the US and Canada. In rooms: Beats by Dre Pill Bluetooth speakers, TV with cable and international channels, air-conditioning, minibar, free bottled water, tea- and coffee-making kit, free bug repellent, tote bag, bathrobes, slippers, Malin + Goetz toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Looking for romance? Plump for the intimate, wood-accented rooms, which have vases of orchids in every softly-lit corner. High-rollers should splash out on a Beachfront Suite for a private slice of sandy shore and an individual plunge pool. If you’re travelling with your brood, the suites are your best option: each has its own kitchen and plenty of space for little ‘uns to run around.
There are two pools to try: the first is child-friendly, with a glass wall right up against the ocean (so you really feel like you’re swimming with the fish). It’s surrounded by umbrella-shaded day-beds and cabanas, each with their own basket full of towels and suncream (there are pool toys on offer, too). The second is an adults-only infinity pool, set on a quiet terrace dotted with chairs and sunloungers. You’ll be served fresh-fruit skewers as you sunbathe, away from the splash-heavy fun of the main pool.
The five-room Zemi Thai House Spa is set in a 300-year-old rice barn, offering tempting treatments including a grapefruit- and rosemary-scented massage and a mother of pearl body scrub. Three of the treatment rooms are for couples, so book a his ‘n’ hers treatment to up the indulgence factor. There’s also a hammam, mud area, rainfall showers and a temperature-controlled hot tub. While you could easily spend a whole day here (take a free yoga class, hang out at the juice bar, do a spot of shopping in the boutique…), you can still get in on the spa action even if you can’t bear to rouse yourself from your sunlounger. Lazy Smiths can opt for a poolside massage for your head or your feet, or an in-room scented bath prepared by the spa therapists.
You needn’t bother with bug repellent or suncream, as the hotel provides it. In fact, Zemi Beach can supply pretty much anything you need, so just pack favourite bikinis and kaftans.
The state-of-the-art fitness centre is open at all times, and there are personal trainers on hand if you need them. If you’d rather work up a sweat outside, hit the tennis or volleyball courts.
Little Smiths are welcome, and there’s as much to occupy them as their parents (kite surfing or swimming with dolphins, anyone?).
If you’re looking for a luxury, beachside resort that accommodates all ages, Zemi Beach is the ideal choice.
Some of the rooms can take a baby cot or an extra bed, but we recommend the suites for larger broods. The private kitchen is invaluable for midnight snacks, and there’s plenty of space. Little ones will find mini sets of bath products in the room.
The kids club is open daily from 9am–5pm to all children aged 4–12. There’s enough here to keep young Smiths occupied for days: arts and crafts, interactive toys, cupcake decorating… Puppet shows are occasionally organised, and older kids can play video games on rainy afternoons. Two nights a week, the kids club schedules a film night with pizza and popcorn, so parents can book in at Stone or the Rhum Bar for a child-free evening.
The main pool is child-friendly, with a few pool toys on offer.
Children are welcome at 40 Knots, where there are highchairs. There isn't a children's menu, but the chef is happy to adapt anything to little palates' preferences. Sit outside on the beach, where kids can be a bit messier, bury their feet in the sand and splash in the waves while their parents enjoy lunch.
The hotel can outsource babysitters outside kids club hours. It’s US$15 an hour for the first child and US$5 extra an hour for each additional child. After midnight, these prices go up to US$20 and US$8. You’ll need to give three hours notice.
No need to pack
Baby cots, puzzles, pens and paper, toys, pool toys, play mats, high chairs.
The hotel doesn’t have baby monitors, so bring your own – although bear in mind that the property is quite spread out.
If the sun is shining, grab a beachside spot at 40 Knots; in the evenings, ask for a table by the window at Stone to catch a glimpse of the pink-hued sunset.
Stay in your beachwear for 40 Knots, but take it up a notch for Stone – linen shirts and tailored trousers (in expensive neutrals to match your surroundings) will go down a treat.
Zemi Beach has two restaurants: the child-friendly 40 Knots, and the glitzier Stone. The former is a casual affair, serving pizzas, salads, juicy tacos and fragrantly-spiced Caribbean curries. Floor-to-ceiling windows make the most of the ocean views, aquamarine blue to match the chairs and glassware. Don’t miss the Wednesday evening barbecue, set to the upbeat tunes of live Caribbean music. At Stone, gold pendant lights hang above intimate tables, blue-velvet banquettes and fawn-leather chairs; our pick from the impressive menu is the whole red snapper, or the creamy fisherman’s stew.
For those that fancy a tipple in the evenings (or at any time of day, really), Zemi Beach is heaven-sent: there are a staggering four bars to choose from, so you’ll never be far from something to sip. The Rhum Bar has over 100 types of its namesake spirit, the Stone Bar specialises in hand-crafted cocktails, the Main Bar does a mean ‘cucumber refresher’ and the Shoal Bay Beach Club excels at rose-laced margaritas. The latter two bars can accept children, and everywhere except the Rhum Bar serves light snacks throughout serving times.
All meals are served at 40 Knots (7am–10pm). Stone serves dinner Thurs–Sun, 6pm–11pm. The Shoal Bay Beach Club is open 7am–10pm, the Main Bar is open 3pm–midnight, the Rhum Bar is open 6pm–10pm (closed Mon and Weds) and the Stone Bar keeps the same hours.
A menu of lobster salads, burgers, brick-fired pizzas and sweet treats is available daily between 6.30am and 1.30am.
Zemi Beach is set on the white sands of Shoal Bay East, one of Anguilla’s most beloved beaches, next to the Fountain Cavern National Park.
Clayton J Lloyd Airport is a 10-minute drive from Zemi Beach, and the hotel can organise free transfers. Some carriers (including American Airlines) fly here, though nearly all flights are connecting. Alternatively, fly to neighbouring island Sint Maarten, and get the sea shuttle across to Anguilla. Call our Smith24 Team on 03300 376 891, and they'll happily arrange flights and transfers for you.
You may find four wheels useful if you plan on exploring the south side of the island, where the best bars and restaurants are located. Hire a car from the airport, then take the Valley Road to the hotel, where you’ll be greeted by free valet parking.
If you fly to Sint Maarten, you’ll need to hop on the hotel’s sea shuttle (shared or private) to the Blowing Point ferry terminal on Anguilla, which takes around 45 minutes. The shared shuttle costs US$65 a person each way between 8am and 4.30pm; if you’d rather go private, it’s US$400 a person each way for up to four people between 8am and 5pm. From the ferry terminal, get a taxi to the hotel (this is normally around US$30, with two free pieces of luggage and a US$1 charge for each piece after that).
Worth getting out of bed for
You won’t have to endure a minute’s boredom at Zemi Beach, which offers a host of activities for couples and families alike. Of course, the beachside location lends itself especially well to watersports: try paddleboarding, sailing, kayaking and snorkelling, or learn to swim with mermaid tails. On dry land, get active with tennis, volleyball and coconut bowling, or ask the hotel to organise a few rounds of golf at a local course. Further afield, Zemi Beach can set up dolphin swimming, glass-bottomed boat tours, nature trails (keep your eyes peeled for lizards, wild cats and iguanas), sunset cruises and day-trips to nearby St Bart’s. Still stuck for things to do? Give horse-riding along the beach a go, or hire bikes to explore the island. Make an excursion to Fountain Cavern National Park to see the centuries-old pre-Columbian carvings, and visit the Heritage Collection Museum, which has a sizeable cache of archeological and historical pieces. If you’re venturing out on a day tour, make sure you tell the hotel – they can give you advice about the best things to see, and pack you a picnic lunch. If all this is sounding a tad exhausting to you, don’t worry – Zemi Beach is perfectly set up for guests who’d rather lounge poolside, stretch out in the spa or take up daytime residence on the private beach.
We love Gwen’s Reggae Bar and Grill, a short walk from the hotel, which pretty much does what it says on the tin: there’s swinging music, picnic benches set right on the sand, and a low-key barbecue serving crisp seafood and juicy ribs. There are more restaurants on the other side of the island (so you’ll need to get a taxi or hire a car). Try the open-air Straw Hat near Meads Bay – open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can watch the waves roll in from your ocean-facing table (there’s not a bad seat in the house). The menu focuses on simply prepared local seafood, but Caribbean specialties, such as curried goat, also make an appearance on the menu. For a night out, head to Veya, where billowing curtains and live music sets a romantic mood in tree house-like surroundings. Word is out about this spot, though, so be sure to make a reservation in advance.
Desperate to escape the gloom of the northern winter, Mrs Smith and I arrive in Anguilla, a tiny British Overseas Territory blessed with some of the most inch-perfect beaches in the Caribbean, via the curiously divided French/Dutch island of St Martin/Sint Maarten. The good vibes begin the moment we board the speedboat, aptly named Funtime, for the 30-minute crossing. A cheery crew hands out free beer and rum punch, Bob Marley sings 'Coming in from the Cold' and, as we race across the glistening waves, we all gleefully dispense with the familiar burdens of work and the city.
'Welcome to the British Caribbean' trumpets a large sign as we disembark at Blowing Point. Most of our fellow passengers hail from North America, but Anguilla still has strong links with the UK. Driving is on the left, the Queen's Birthday is a national holiday, and the Valley, the island's capital, boasts a grand avenue of mahogany trees planted to honour the Coronation of King George VI.
Our home for the week is in the north-east at Shoal Bay East and seems to be a good pick. Some Anguilla resorts can feel isolated, but this one sits at the western end of a long and uncrowded beach lightly sprinkled with bars, restaurants, holiday homes and small hotels. Taking a soul-boosting walk along its expansive white sand soon becomes a joyous daily ritual, and we grow especially fond of Madeariman, a laid-back beach restaurant where the freshly caught tuna is served pink as an adulterer's blush. When I tell the patronne I'm happy with it she gives me a huge hug – this is how friendly folks are on lil’ ol' Anguilla.
We learn that Zemi Beach House opened in 2016 – a purpose-built, family-loving resort of white concrete blocks rising to four storeys with roofs covered in grey shingles. We nab a third-floor ocean-view 'premium' room, which means I can sit (somewhat imperiously) on the balcony watching Anguilla beach life stroll, jog and – err, hello – snog along. The interior is spacious and easy-going with plenty of natural wood, white drapes and Frette linen, and while the bathroom's a tad small it does feature both bath and shower, Malin+Goetz toiletries and a pair of basins made from petrified wood.
With so much sunshine and sea air here you can't help but feel healthy (at least until the rum-swigging commences), and Mrs Smith takes to ploughing up and down a 60ft lap pool set on a terrace beside a companion adults-only pool with loungers, chilled water and free sunscreen. Next door is an ice-cold fitness centre that I glance at…and decide, entirely in the interest of supporting the local environment, that bobbing about in the warm-as-a-bath ocean is more preferable.
Exercise makes you hungry (and relaxing makes you greedy) so it's handy the resort rate include a generous buffet breakfast served in the beachfront 20 Knots restaurant. We commend the chef on his scrambled eggs (rarely good in buffets, we find), though this is very much a hotel restaurant in the typical hotel-restaurant mold. Nearby, the fine-dining venue, Stone, serves quite acceptable small plates and seasonal dishes such as lobster tail and mango tartare with chilli. There's also a Rhum Bar decorated with books chosen because their covers are blue (a crime against literature, in our view), while the Bohio Bar & Lounge has live music or a DJ most nights with the main palm-lined pool lit up in bold cocktail colours.
Further exploration reveals cabanas, watersports, a tennis court and kids’ club, and it's easy to see why many couples and families don't stray further. We're Very Nosey Smiths, though, so rent a car for a few days to explore. Soon we're discovering the glorious sands of Meads Bay and Barnes Bay in the south-west, along with the small but superb Heritage Collection Museum in East End, which tells the story of the island's ascent from slavery and salt-harvesting to an economy now prospering from high-end tourism. A gallery of the Anguillans who’ve reached their 100th birthday, and so received congratulations from the Queen, is proof that for some life here has been very good.
Every afternoon, when we return to Zemi Beach House, it feels more like home – the familiar smiling staff, that fabulous beach, the sundowner or two on our pie-in-the-sky balcony. There's also something quite special here – the Thai House Spa which is set in a walled garden with a vitality pool, juice bar, yoga deck and the largest hammam in the Caribbean. Its centrepiece is an authentic 300-year-old wooden house shipped from Thailand that’s now home to five cabin-like treatment rooms offering myriad pampering and restorative delights. One evening Mrs Smith opts for an 80-minute Balinese massage from which she returns in a bliss-bubble so transcendent I become acutely aware of my superfluity to the meaning of life.
Time for a wander, then, and maybe a sneaky beer and Cuban cigar, but before that I stop by Out of the Blue, the resort's gift shop. Here there's a decent spread of local jams, candles and island crafts, but my eye is caught by what seems the ideal souvenir to help Mrs Smith remember our happy times here. It's a plain white T-shirt that states 'I found my Zen in Zemi Beach' – and it's true. On Anguilla, the path to enlightenment is deliciously short.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Zemi Beach’s Guestbook below.
No Smith members have posted their reviews of Zemi Beach yet. You could be the first!